Working from home sounds like a pretty good deal. And it is (mostly). No commute. You can work in your pajamas.  You can communicate with the world from the palm of your hand. So why are so many people literally losing sleep?

Study after study shows that people who work from home are increasingly suffering from insomnia and interrupted sleep. A recent article from mattress clarity gives us some reasons. It’s a long article, and it’s designed to sell mattresses, which is fine but not our goal. Here are some of the interesting points from the article that are relevant to this blog.

Losing sleep can be the result of either physical factors or mental stress. Most likely it’s a combination of both.

Is you posture suffering?

Just because you can work anywhere, doesn’t mean it’s a great idea. Working from the couch might allow you to clean up your inbox while bingeing Reacher, but your posture and spending too long in awkward positions can impact your sleep at night.

  • A healthy posture means your ears, shoulders and hips are aligned. Slouching over a laptop or balancing it on your knees means you’re knocking your body out of whack.
  • You need support for your back and hips that the sofa probably doesn’t provide.
  • When you’re sooooo comfy you don’t feel like moving, that’s a problem. Your body and mind need breaks from the routine. A lot of us don’t get enough exercise when we work from home. It’s not that we can’t, there’s just always a good excuse.

Too much screen time means problems with sleep

Working from home also creates the kind of mental stress that can result in staring at the ceiling late at night instead of getting the rest we need. Among the reasons are:

  • We spend too much time in front of screens. The blue spectrum light affects our circadian rhythms, so the convenience of being able to check our email or messages in bed becomes part of the problem.
  • Even if we’re not glued to work communication, our leisure time is full of screens too. Your brain doesn’t really care what you’re reading or watching, it just knows it’s getting visually stimulated.
  • Because the line between our home and personal lives blur, our brain never really stops processing the problems we are trying to solve. Unless we take breaks and tell our neurons to chill, they will keep trying to tackle the problem you were dealing with earlier. After all, it’s finally quiet and you can concentrate. The problem is, you should be sleeping.
  • There are a lot of things that impact our stress levels when working from home. These can range from constant interruptions from work and home (so that quiet night time is perfect for actually thinking about work!) to just plain working too long.
  • Work stress can cause an increase in hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which make sleep difficult
  • If we don’t give our brains a chance to rest before going to sleep, they can process those problems through stressful dreams and nightmares
  • Being at home may result in nonproductive attempts to self-medicate which can include increased alcohol and drug intake and  (which actually works against restful sleep)

The answers are fairly simple. Use good posture when working. Breathe, Get exercise and give your brain a chance to relax and detox before crawling into the sheets. This isn’t brand new information, but good heavens, we need a reminder sometimes.

Sweet dreams.



Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammateoffers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.

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Wayne Turmel has been writing about how to develop communication and leadership skills for almost 26 years. He has taught and consulted at Fortune 500 companies and startups around the world. For the last 18 years, he’s focused on the growing need to communicate effectively in remote and virtual environments.

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